Human beings are God’s greatest creation. We are dynamic, spiritual, psychological and most of all contradictory; our hearts contradict our minds on a daily basis while our souls reach for a balance through that contradiction. This world works within its chaotic rhythm by nature yet people try to distinguish that fundamental understanding and divide one another by labeling and holding that contradiction against one another.
People nowadays are so consumed by labeling that they give themselves a certain weight or value in order to stay within the frames of the label they deem fit for them, whether that value is social status, academic status or family lineage. A lot of people think that labeling themselves will make them special or provide them with a distinct presence, but in fact it only reduces them to a lesser existence, and once they are finally alone they feel free to unleash the contradictions within their nature.
When I was in school, I thought that would be the only time I would have to deal with the absurdity of such labeling. I remember that when I was a teenager, I used to take characteristics tests in magazines and feel confused because I could not pick only one of them to define myself; so I used to pick them all. As I started to pay attention to the world, I realized that everything and everyone is being labeled whether by others or by society in general. For a long time I tried to fit myself within the labels that I felt were me, but I only ended up feeling trapped and ashamed of my own contradictions. It was then that I realized that I am only free when I cannot be defined; that I can be myself without being affected by the rewarding or stigmatizing of labeling. Nowadays labeling is infecting our perception in a lot of ways including our emotions. For example, if you are sometimes not in a good mood, people hasten to label you as being extremely “moody” and once you have been given that label, you automatically start to act that way because you have been defined.
Even though we all know that emotions fleet by and are impermanent, we still label each other according to emotions, and this type of labeling is the most troubling because in time it starts to crush your self-image and you start to hate yourself because you have no chance to break free from its chains.
Some people tend to label themselves to gain a sense of belonging that offers them the safety they long for, not realizing that it stops them from growing. Others tend to label themselves hoping that this will simplify issues and allow them to fit into society. They believe that if they are labeled, they will not have to think about being outcasts anymore.
The circle of labeling seems to grow bigger causing more chaos than the situation itself. Let’s take, for example, political labeling. The conflict between conservatives and liberals is spreading. It has reached the stage where it is no longer a matter of two different points of views on certain issues, but rather two sides that act as if they were enemies belonging to two different countries. I personally do not feel that extremists on either side are really genuine; they either have not thought clearly about the issue or they are hiding their contradictions or maybe they just want to be part of a crowd that makes them feel important.
When it comes to our society, people tend to label each other based on family names. Many people cannot get married to each other because they come from different regions of the country. This ridiculous prejudice is ending good relations between people. Prejudice exists in workplaces, schools, even between children.
I think it is really sad that such a trivial matter affects people’s future when it comes to marriage, and what I despise the most is people who claim to be religious but will not let any of their family marry someone from a different family regardless of where they come from. In our country they stress religion to cover up a lot of poisonous traditions. Shakespeare represented that in his “Romeo and Juliet” years and years before our present situation.
They say people learn from the mistakes of others and yet we still make the same mistakes over and over again. We may have reached the moon and have over a 1,000 TV channels beamed from satellites orbiting our planet, but our minds and behavior seem to be slipping back.
— Esraa Al-Ghamdi is a Saudi poet. She can be reached at